Every Holiday season, I can’t help but feel a bit stressed out about all the things that I need to buy. There’s always that nagging feeling that I might miss out on giving a gift to someone or that this or that person won’t like my gift. It’s not that my friends or family members are particularly picky about the gifts they receive (well…except for that one relative), but it’s just that I want to make each gift special.
Recent holiday data says that people are shopping for electronics, games, toys, and clothes this year. No big surprise there. Who wouldn’t want the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD? Or maybe the Xbox Kinect? These are welcome and expensive gifts almost anyone would love. But there are gifts that you can give that don’t have to be expensive or generic. You can actually spend less, but still feel that you gave more. These are the gifts that take more than money out of you.
I remember one of the most memorable gifts I ever received – a translation of a favorite poem by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Actually, the poem was already a translation, since it was written in English. The words were haunting, romantic, and achingly beautiful and even made more so when my friend translated it into my second language. I knew the effort that was put into that gift and it was really touching. You don’t have to stress yourself making a poem if it’s not your skill. But you can think of different things you like doing. Some of my friends made colourful bookmarks which they painted themselves and laminated. Another planted a small tree and put it in pots she decorated herself. Still another one gave us all love notes folded into origami hearts and another gave us a blueberry cheesecake she baked herself. Whatever it is that requires effort and time from you will make a great gift.
They say that time is the best gift you can give someone. You can’t take it back once you give it, and you create a lot of memories when you give your time to someone. Ask your friend or family member out on a special date, especially if you don’t get out too often. One of my friends took 3 days off from his usually hectic schedule to spend time with his mom on their family farm. He routed all his calls to voicemail during this time and informed everyone in his office that he wasn’t to be disturbed unless it was a life and death situation. He cooked breakfast during his short vacation, picked fresh flowers for her everyday, and just spent time catching up. Needless to say, he made his mom feel extra happy and special during those three days.
My dad used to do this for my mom on her birthday and it never failed to make her smile. For each celebration, he would give her a coupon that entitled her to “claim” a gift from him. The gifts were always helpful for my stay-at-home mom. One year, he promised to cook dinner every weekend, so she could take time off from cooking. Another year, he learned Shiatsu massage and gave her the permission to ask for a massage during her particularly stressful days. You can offer to do something as simple as washing the dishes for a week if you’re not used to doing this regularly at home. These kinds of gifts take commitment and they’re sure to be appreciated.
Holidays gifts don’t have to be expensive to be valuable. The important thing is that they come from the heart.